Mike Yenni is the third member of his family to serve as president of Jefferson Parish. His grandfather Joe Yenni (1980-1987) and uncle Mike Yenni (1987-1995) both won the confidence of their voters with a gift for plain dealing. Both men died in office.
Today, Jefferson’s residents deserve an honest accounting from their parish president after reports the FBI is looking into allegations that he sent sexually explicit texts to a 17-year-old, who he met at a high school function. The texts were sent during last year’s campaign for Jefferson’s highest office.
The parish council meets today, and Yenni needs to use that forum to explain his behavior to other elected leaders and the voters who have given him their trust.
Yenni has not been charged with a crime, and the FBI probe has gone on for nearly a year.
But the allegations made by the young man – who says he has been in touch with the FBI – suggest a standard of behavior that is not appropriate for an elected official.
According to a printout of the texts, as reported by WWL-TV and The New Orleans Advocate, Yenni tells the young man he wants to see him naked and perform a sex act. The young man says Yenni met him, gave him underwear, kissed him, and “asked me to be a secretary or assistant in his office.”
It’s up to the voters of Jefferson Parish to decide whether they are comfortable with Yenni as their leader. But constituents cannot make that decision without hearing from the man they elected less than a year ago.
Mike Yenni is rightfully proud of his family and its tradition of service to Jefferson Parish. His grandfather and uncle were popular leaders regarded as fearless about telling the truth. Mike Yenni needs to honor that legacy today and level with the people he represents.